Sigmundur Davíð’s press release to foreign media, contending he has not actually resigned, is not going down well.
After foreign correspondents revealed a press release Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson sent to international media stating that he “has not resigned” and that Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson will be taking over “for an unspecified amount of time”, the Progressive Party went straight into damage control mode.
Progressive Party MP Ásmundur Einar Daðason told Stundin that there should be no confusion about whether Sigmundur has resigned or not, saying, “He’s just quitting as Prime Minister and Sigurður Ingi is taking over. That’s just how it is. No doubt about it. He’s just stepping aside and letting Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson take over as Prime Minister.”
Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, Sigmundur Davíð’s assistant, told RÚV much the same, adding that “for an unspecified amount of time” could mean until new elections are held. This was echoed by government spokesperson Sigurður Már Jónsson, who told reporters that the press release was not at all misleading.
These explanations are not sitting especially well. Former Minister of Finance and Left-Green MP Steingrímur J. Sigfússon told reporters he felt Sigmundur’s letter was tantamount to “a deliberate attempt to confuse the discussion.” Historian Guðni Th. Johannesson told RÚV that the Progressives’ plan for the Prime Minister seat is unrealistic.
“You don’t put forward a mandate for the office of the Prime Minister and then say you intend to take it back after an unspecified amount of time,” he said. “Of course Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson could be Prime Minister again after elections or what have you, but people don’t make it seem – neither here nor abroad – that you’re just taking a small break. That’s completely out of the question.”
A third day of protests is scheduled to begin at 17:00 today, in front of parliament.
For more on this continuing story, follow our Panama Papers tag on Grapevine.is/news.